[Samantha] You’re listening to episode 1 of She’s Not Selfish. Pop that champagne mama, cause this podcast has officially launched, and oh my goodness, I have something so special for you today. Today we’re discussing identity and the role that it plays in our daily lives, especially when it comes to achieving our goals. Whether those goals are related to fitness and health, or any other area of life. I gotta tell you, today’s episode had me feeling fire in my bones the entire time I was recording, and I am just so excited and honored to share it with you. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
At the beginning of October, my husband and I loaded up our car, packed up the kids, and we drove up north to Wisconsin. Which is where I’m from, and where my mom and dad currently live. My mom and dad own some beautiful property right on the Wisconsin River, and my boys adore going up there. Of course, they love Nani and Papa, but they especially love all of my dad’s heavy equipment that he has. They get to just live their best life, driving around on Papa’s lap on all of these bulldozers and tractors and graters. You can imagine how much they love it as little boys. I love it too, because I get a break while they’re just living the dream. So, it’s wins all around when we go up to visit my mom and dad in Wisconsin.
When we were there most recently, I had this lightbulb moment that I wanted to share with you, because it really inspired this episode. It was a really uncomfortable situation that turned into such a profound lesson. So, even though it’s a little bit uncomfortable to revisit, to admit to, I think that I need to, because potentially, it will be very helpful for you. I don’t want to miss out on something valuable just because it’s kind of uncomfortable to talk about.
I was changing Wyatt’s diaper, how every great story starts, right. ‘I was changing a diaper when . . .’ Let me just let you know that changing Wyatt’s diaper is one of the most challenging tasks of my life. Wrangling him is like wrangling a baby crocodile, not that I’ve ever done that before, but what I imagine it to be like. I am like, pooped out by the time it is done.
So, I was changing Wyatt’s diaper and before I got his fresh diaper on him he scurried away and of course, he went right to the corner and pottied on the floor. This was at my parent’s house. Todd was there at the time, and Todd gets really frustrated when preventable things are not prevented. Of course, he was like, “There was an easy way to prevent this. Put a diaper on the kid.” But he didn’t have a diaper on, so now there’s potty on the floor that we’re cleaning up. Awesome.
We had to have a conversation where he was just letting me know how frustrated he was by that situation. As he was just very calmly letting me know how he was feeling, I started to have this really intense response. I was feeling very hurt by what he was saying to me. It was like my sympathetic nervous system was kicking in. That flight or fight response, that is very physical. You can feel your heart rate rising and you start to get really tense. That’s what I was feeling. I was starting to get really defensive, I could feel it coming on. All from this very simple conversation about putting a diaper on my child.
All of a sudden, I just blurted out to Todd, I said, “I feel like you’re telling me that you can do this better. That I’m incompetent, that I’m incapable.” He looked shocked. He was like, “I have no idea how you heard any of that because that’s not even remotely close to anything I just said.” I was like, “Well, it’s what I heard you say. It’s what I feel like you’re saying. I know that’s what you mean when you say these things to me.” I stormed downstairs. I sat down on the floor and I just started to cry.
I want to pause the story really quick and ask you if you’ve ever had that experience where there’s this really obvious disconnect between what’s being spoken and what’s being heard or received. Whether you are on the receiving end of that or you’re the person who is trying to communicate something and the person takes it the completely wrong way and you’re just left sitting there like, ‘Oh my gosh. How did you arrive there? We need to take like ten steps back and figure out what went wrong because that is not at all what I was saying.’ Have you ever had an experience like that? It’s a very common human experience when we’re trying to communicate with one another.
The thing that’s in between what’s being said and what’s being received is this very subtle thing that we will refer to as the filter of our beliefs. Beliefs that we have about ourselves. Beliefs that we have about our lives. We filter all inputs coming into our brains through this filter that is our identity. Our beliefs about ourselves.
Often times, when you encounter that disconnect between what’s being said and what’s being received, it actually has very little to do with what’s actually being said. It has a lot more to do with the receiving person’s filter. That filter, again, being their beliefs about themselves and their lives.
Let’s go back to my story really quick. I’m sitting on the floor, in tears, feeling like my husband just said terrible things to me, making me feel so small and so sad. As I’m there, crying, it only took a couple of seconds when all of a sudden this thought hit me. It was just like ‘boom’! I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ My eyes opened up and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is crazy.’ Here’s what I realized. All those things I interpreted from what Todd was telling me that I heard him saying about me. . . Just as a refresher, I told him, “I feel like you’re telling me that you can do this better. That I’m incompetent, and that I’m incapable.”
Those things that I heard from him, those are actually beliefs that I have about myself way deep down in my subconscious self. I believe those things about me and I am scared to death that they are true.
When other people are criticizing me, quote-unquote criticizing me, when I interpret as that, it’s what I hear from them because it’s what I believe. All the inputs are coming through that filter that I have. So when those words land on my ears and my heart, I hear, ‘You’re not good enough. You’re not capable. You’re failing at this.’ I’m just wondering. I’m wondering what beliefs you have about yourself that are influencing what you hear from other people. Influencing what you experience on a regular basis. Because it’s happening for all of us whether you realize it or not. The game-changer is when we recognize it and we acknowledge it, and we are able to see those beliefs, call them by name and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna change that because that’s not healthy. That’s not helpful. That’s not who I am. Get out of there.’
Oh my gosh. Then all of a sudden your entire experience and perception of the world changes because you’ve changed the filter in which you are hearing and experiencing things. It’s so freeing. It’s incredible.
Next, we really need to talk about how that filter is created. To do that, we’re going to talk about the little task that I left you with last time. Do you remember what it was? If you didn’t tune in, no worries, I’m about to fill you in.
I asked you to think through the exact words that you use, as well as the feelings that come up when you’re answering the question, ‘So what do you do?’ I want to start with a quick observation. When people ask us that, they’re not asking us, ‘Who are you?’ They’re asking, ‘What do you do?’ But, when we answer, we almost always answer with an ‘I am’ statement. Meaning, we’re transforming it into an identity statement.
Now, why is that observation important? It’s important, because with those two tiny little words ‘I am’, we are creating and formulating and speaking life to ideas and beliefs about who we are. Oh, and here’s an interesting thought. When we’re answering that question, ‘So, what do you do?’ We’re usually thinking about the other person. As you do in a conversation, you’re thinking about, ‘What are they thinking about what I’m saying? How are they responding? How are they receiving it? What do they think about us as a result of what we’re telling them?’
I’m going to propose to you that there is someone listening to that response that’s even more important than that other individual. Your subconscious mind is listening to your answer, picking up on the subtle words and tone that you’re using. So how you answer this question matters, not only because of how the other person is going to think of you but because of what you are going to think of you.
Whenever we say, “I am X.”, We are making a declaration to ourselves about our identity. We are building up that filter that exists in our minds through which we filter all of the inputs coming in, and then here’s what happens. We take those words about our identity and then we create our reality to reflect what they represent. Not only are we creating this filter through which we filter all of the inputs coming in, we’re also using those words to actively create our daily experience and our lives and the formulation of our identities.
Knowing this, there are some subtle little words that I want us to agree that we’re going to work on eliminating from our vocabulary when we are answering the ‘What do you do?’ question. These little words are really weighing us down and holding us back by basically communicating to our subconscious minds like, ‘Yeah, you really aren’t that significant. What you do really isn’t that meaningful.’ None of us should be or need to be saying that to ourselves.
The first word that I want us to pluck out of there is ‘just’. ‘Oh, I’m just a stay at home mom.’ You see how it makes it seem so small? The second word is ‘but’. ‘Oh, I’m a photographer, but it’s just a side hustle. But, I’m not that great at it.’ The word ‘but’ negates everything that came before it, so get it out of there. The third word, actually it’s two words, ‘So, yeah’. They sound so innocent, but they take what we’re saying and they very subtly make it less significant. ‘Oh, I’m a hairstylist, so yeah.’ Subtle, right? The fourth one is ‘Um’. ‘Um, I’m a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist.’ Um? You need an ‘um’ for that statement? No, get that out of there. Be confident in who you are.
So here’s what I want to propose to you, now that we’ve agreed upon the words that we’re going to work on eliminating from our vocabularies. What we say and how we say it influences our perceptions of ourselves and they influence the lives we ultimately create.
I’m going to give you a big statement. In the same way that God spoke into existence his creation, we speak into existence of our creation. You and me, we are made in the image of God. God is the creator. We are creators. What are we creating? Our daily creations are our daily experiences. Our identities. Our legacies. Our lives. We create those things.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘As within, so without’? Based on what we believe to be true about ourselves and our lives on the inside, so we create our lives around us. So often we think that things are the way they are simply because they are. We forget that we have a creative capacity.
Let’s talk about how we actually accomplish this. In practical terms, how do you create your reality to reflect your beliefs about yourself? We all have these sneaky little subconscious tool kits that we use in order to align our external reality with our internal beliefs. These tool kits contain tools such as excuses and self-sabotage and distractions.
Let’s say that you have a goal. That goal is to strengthen your body and to eat more nutrient-dense foods. If, deep down, subconsciously, unknowingly, you have an unhealthy belief about yourself. You believe about yourself that you are not worthy or deserving of nurturing and nourishing your body in those ways. You will subconsciously create a situation where failure is inevitable. You’ll do so, you’ll create that situation by planting and entertaining thoughts such as these. As I go through these, I want you to think to yourself as to whether or not any of these sound familiar.
Number one, ‘It’s too expensive. Eating healthy, nourishing foods is great, but it costs so much money and honestly it is unreasonable and selfish of me to spend all that money on myself.’
Number two, ‘I don’t have the time. Look, I barely have time to fit in all of the need to do necessary stuff in my day let alone this add on extra nice to have stuff. Maybe at some point down the road, I’ll have time again to prioritize exercise, but today is not that day. There’s too much going on. There are too many priorities that I need to attend to.’
Number three, ‘I just do not have enough energy in this season to exercise. I’m optimistic that at some point soon I’m going to have the energy to take care of myself and do what I want to do again. But it’s just not in the cards for me right now.
Number four, ‘It’s selfish of me to invest that time, energy, focus, money in myself. My family needs those resources. The people around me need those resources from me. How can I sit here and say I’m going to spend my time my money and my energy at the gym when there’s so much else around me that’s needing those inputs. It’s so selfish.’
Number five is pretty interesting, ‘If I truly loved and appreciated and was grateful for my body, this stuff wouldn’t be a priority. I need to practice body positivity by not prioritizing exercising all the time. By not prioritizing quote-unquote ‘dieting’. Or changing my eating habits, because by doing so I’m demonstrating that I’m not grateful for my body as it is.’ It’s not a healthy practice to do these things.
Finally, ‘I’m not motivated. Look, there are some people that have motivation and some that don’t. I am just one of those people who doesn’t and I’m okay with that. I’m so happy for the people who are super motivated and who are doing all these amazing, wonderful things and I find them to be incredibly inspiring, but it’s just not who I am and that’s fine.
I want to take a moment right here to clarify something. I am not saying that you should ignore and steamroll past the signals from your body about what it needs. For example, certainly, there are going to be times where doing a high-intensity workout is not going to be what your body needs from you. You should acknowledge that and act on what your body is letting you know. For example, if you are having a really stressful time at work or a stressful time at home, if you’re a stay at home mom with your kids right now, adding more stress to your body with a high-intensity workout, for example, isn’t going to be what’s best for your body necessarily. I want you to be aware of that.
That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m specifically talking here about the excuses that we use on a consistent basis to keep us from achieving, having, doing, being what we want to. That’s an important distinction and something I want you to understand.
Here’s the really interesting part. We create all of these distractions and justifications and reasons, like the ones I listed previously, and there may be others that you use too. We use them in order to distance ourselves from the results that we say we want so that our realities can conform to what we believe. I’m going to make a big statement. I’m realizing that I like making big statements. Here it is. If you are ever going to achieve what you want in life, you must address your core beliefs about yourself and your life or you can expect to always encounter resistance and broken promises to yourself and empty unfulfilled wishes and hopes. This will just be a perpetual loop, a constant cycle in your life. Listen, what you will always ultimately choose is that which aligns with your beliefs. Period. It’s simply what we do. We make decisions, we take actions based on our beliefs about ourselves and our lives. Whether we acknowledge it or not. Whether we realize it or not. It’s what we do.
Now think about the goals that you want to accomplish. The life you want to lead. The legacy you want to leave. The impact you want to have in your life. Now, remember that principle ‘as within, so without’.
You must create an identity that aligns with where you want to go, and what you want your life to be. Because I’ll say it again, you will always choose what aligns with your beliefs, not vice versa. So if you want to achieve something awesome, nurture some awesome beliefs about yourself and watch the magic happen.
I would like to share a metaphor to help bring this all together. I want you to imagine that you are standing in front of what appears to be a large stone wall. When I was in college, one of the things that I studied was Mandarin Chinese and I spent quite a bit of time in China. When you’re in China you, of course, have to go see the great wall, which is in Beijing the capital city. When you’re at the great wall, it inevitably takes your breath away to think about the men who built this incredible huge structure.
You’re standing in front of what appears to be a large stone wall. Based on your observations it looks like there are words that are etched into the stone of the structure. So you get a little closer and you start to recognize that the words are telling a story. Then you realize, ‘Hey, this story is about me.’ It’s the story of you, the story of your life.
I want to pause really quick and say that often times, this is how we think about our identities. We think that they are etched in stone. We think, ‘I am what I am.’ That’s from Popeye, as well as Pam Beasley for you Office fans. I am what I am. My life is what it is. My identity is predetermined.
Alright, now back to this metaphor. You start to make your way a little closer. Then you make a very interesting observation. You recognize the handwriting in which the story is written. Then you realize that it’s your handwriting. And you wonder, ‘How did I forget doing this? This seems like something I should have remembered, right?’ but sure enough, it’s your handwriting.
Then you start to get curious, so you get right up next to this wall and you run your hand down it. As you do, you create all these smudges and you erase a portion of the words. This lightbulb goes on and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this isn’t a stone wall. These words are not etched into stone. This thing that I thought was a stone wall is more like a whiteboard. Weird. These words that I thought were etched in stone, they were actually written with, more like a dry erase marker. Weird. On top of all of it, I was the one who wrote it. Crazy.’
You see what happens, is we write our identities. Then we forget that they’re our creation. Then we start acting and making decisions and creating our realities based on an identity that we think is written in stone, forgetting that that too is our creation.
I want to leave you with a really important thought now. So, given that we are creators who are subconsciously computing countless inputs every single day to inform our identity creation process. It is our responsibility to ground ourselves in truth. The truth of who God is and what he says about you. It’s important so that you can create an identity that aligns with and reflects that. Because if not, you will always feel tension. You’ll feel out of alignment, unsatisfied, ultimately in your life. The reason for this is that the creation must always be aligned with its creator in order to be fulfilled. So ground yourself in truth daily. Ground yourself in truth today so that you can create a beautiful, life-giving identity that is true to who you are and true to the way you want your life to be and look. The legacy you want to leave, the impact you want to have. And do it all in alignment with what your God says about you.